Ground cover is a low-growing plant that rapidly spreads on its own to provide a thick layer of plants and flowers. Ground cover plants are often used to prevent soil erosion on hillsides and slopes, to cover large areas of open ground and to stop the growth of weeds in gardens. Planting ground cover around shrubs and trees protects them from mower damage and keeps the soil from drying out.
Plant the hardy, woody, evergreen ground cover juniper (Juniperus sp.) in areas of landscape that are open and offer plenty of room to spread. The juniper comes in shades that range from green to silvery-blue. According to the University of Illinois, the juniper plant reaches heights of 6 to 18 inches and grows best in USDA zones 3 through 9. Junipers thrive in well-drained soils and require six hours of sun exposure each day.
Golden Creeping Charlie
The attractive golden creeping Charlie (Lysimachia nummularia) is a perennial ground cover that adds a dash of color to shady spots of the garden. The rapid-spreading creeping Charlie grows close to the ground, plants are only 1 to 3 inches tall and it thrives in moist, well-drained soil. According to the University of Illinois, the golden creeping Charlie has bright yellow, oval-shaped leaves and is best grown in USDA zones 4 through 8.
Lily of the Valley
The quick-spread rate of the lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) ground cover makes it ideal for planting around trees and shrubs. Lily of the valley produces a highly fragrant, white flower that blooms in the spring. The lily of the valley thrives in well-drained soils and in areas of light to full shade. Plants reach a height between 6 and 8 inches, have a dense, deep green foliage and flourish in USDA zones 2 through 8.
The leaves of the variegated goutweed (Aegopodium podograria) are bright green and are trimmed in shades of white and cream. The variegated goutweed is a rapid-spreading, hardy perennial ground cover that is aggressive and must be trimmed to keep it under control. Plants reach a height of 6 inches and produce an attractive white flower in June. Variegated goutweed flourishes in moist, well-drained soils and requires full sun to moderate shade exposure. Plants are USDA zone 4 through 9 hardy.
The cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychrome) is an attractive ground cover that grows in mounds that are up to 18 inches high. The cushion spurge plant produces delicate, bright, yellow flowers in the early spring; foliage turns red in the fall months. According to the University of Illinois, cushion spurge is a hardy perennial that is best grown in USDA zones 4 through 8. Plant cushion spurge in well-drained soil and in areas where plants receive full sun to light shade exposure.